Tag Archives: FIBA World Championships

“NBA Preview 2010-2011”

Expect to see Kobe Bryant (pictured above) holding up a championship trophy for a 6th time come June.

The NBA is back folks.  Hard to believe, but after an epic NBA Finals in May, the “Decision” in July, the World FIBA Championships, and preseason basketball, it feels like it never ended.  Well either way, the action gets going tonight with a big time matchup in the East.

Main Storylines:

-What affect will the “Decision” have on the overall scope of the League?

-Can Miami’s stellar trifecta bring Lebron his first championship in South Beach?

-Can Phil Jackson capture his 4th version of the 3-Peat?  And going with this, will Kobe tie Jordan with his 6th title?

-Are the Magic ready to finally take that final step and win a title?

-Can Boston finish the job this year in what looks to be the last year with this amazing group in tact?

-Has the Eastern Conference finally caught up to the West (it would be for the first time since the Jordan era with the Bulls)?

-Do the Thunder or Bulls have what it takes to shock the world?

Divisional Winners:

East:

AtlanticCeltics:    In what may be the NBA’s weakest overall division, I got the Celtics bringing home their 4th consecutive divisional title without much difficulty.  This team is extremely tough, and if they remain healthy, could put up the best record in the entire League.

SoutheastMagic:  Shocking I know.  But I do think contrary to popular belief, that the Heat will have some growing pains.  They have an amazingly talented group.  But the Magic have been good for some time now and look ready to take the next step.   Not to mention they have won the division 3 consecutive years already.

CentralBulls:  Chicago is a team that is kind of hiding behind the mighty Celtics, Magic, and Heat.  And believe me, they are fine with this.  This is an extremely talented team that will quietly go about their business all year, and be there come playoff time.  They had arguably the best offseason, outside of Miami, picking up Carlos Boozer and sharpshooter, Kyle Korver.  Look for Derrick Rose to continue to play exceptional and really utilize the talent that management has put around him.

West:

Southwest: Mavericks:  This may be the most up for grabs division in the entire NBA.  They have a few very talented teams in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.  Though I do not see a title frontrunner in the group, teams like Dallas and San Antonio have been very solid for over a decade now.  Do not sleep on the teams out of this division come playoff time regardless if they are beginning to age.  I am taking Dallas here though, due to their amazing owner (Mark Cuban), and their outstanding consistency over the past decade.

NorthwestThunder:  This will be another hotly contested division at the top.  I see the Thunder and Trailblazers having a great battle down the stretch for the division title.  But Kevin Durant is arguably the best scorer in the entire game now.  And though I wish Oklahoma City could have made a move to bring in a major interior presence such as a Carlos Boozer, this team is extremely exciting and young.  Honestly, if you are looking for a fun team to watch, look no further than the Thunder.  Durant, Westbrook, Cook, Harden, and Green are some of the best young players in the League.  And they all happen to be on the same team.  Not to mention this team now has some playoff experience.  With a major midseason move, this team could be a title contender.

PacificLakers:  As if I was going to pick somebody other than LA.  This team has been to 3 consecutive NBA Finals and look to be the frontrunner to come out of the West for the 4th consecutive year.  This team has great chemistry, a phenomenal coach, and great length at every position.  Not to mention they have the best closer in the game, Kobe Bryant.  Expect the Lake Show to be around and right in the thick of things come May.

Sleeper Teams:

I am going to pick one sleeper team out of each conference.  Now in the East, the Bulls are my team that could shock the world.  Now I realize I am picking them to win the division title, but they also are a team that is really known as the 4th or 5th fiddle in the East due to teams like the Celtics, Magic, and Heat.  Another team to keep an eye on though is the Brandon Jennings led Milwaukee Bucks.  This team is young and talented.  But my sleeper pick in the East is the Chicago Bulls.

Out of the West, my sleeper pick has to be Portland Trailblazers.  Now I would have said the Oklahoma City Thunder, but they are really no sleeper team to anybody anymore.  Many analysts have them as the 2nd best team in the West, after the Lakers.  But the Trailblazers are a team that has had the talent for years now.  Injuries and poor execution down the stretch has been a thorn in this franchise’s side for some time.  With a healthy roster, this team is big, fast, and athletic.  Not to mention they have great length.  Length is a key in this league today, and the Trailblazers have it.  The question is can guys like Greg Oden, Lamarcus Aldridge, and Brandon Roy stay healthy?  If this team stays healthy, do not be surprised to see them play their way into the Western Conference Finals or dare I say the NBA Finals?!

Eastern Conference Finals:

Celtics over Magic in 7:  I know many of you are thinking, how could you not have Miami at least going to the conference finals?  And I will admit, they could easily ride their 3 stars all the way to the title, but I do not see it happening yet.  Miami is a year away in my eyes.  Team chemistry cannot be bought.  It has to be formed through going to battle together.  The Celtics and Magic are two very deep teams, that if they remain healthy, could each easily win the East.  But I got the Celtics, heading to the Finals for the 3rd time in 4 years.

Western Conference Finals:

Lakers over Thunder in 6:  You better believe I got the Lake Show heading to their 4th consecutive NBA Finals.  This team is just so deep, so well coached, and full of star power.  Now I will state that the Thunder could easily be a major bust though, but I am expecting them to pick up a big man at some point during the season , that will provide the final piece to the puzzle.  Sadly for the Thunder, Kobe Bryant is still Kobe Bryant.  He has a greater will to win than any player in the game today.  If you look up the term “Refuse to Lose,” Kobe Bryant’s picture will show up next to it.  Expect to see Phil smiling in June (again).

NBA Finals:

Lakers over Celtics in 7:  I am making the same call I made last year.  And it is a safe bet in my eyes.  Both of these teams return basically their entire rosters from last year and look poised to go to battle for the rubber match.  Sadly for Boston, I see the Lakers ending up on top.  Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant are just too good of a combination.  But it will be an epic series that will provide the NBA with possibly its highest ever television ratings.  Kobe will be even with Michael Jordan come June.

So there you have it.  What a year it is going to be after the most tumultuous and action packed offseason of all time.  “The Decision” will have no affect on the NBA Champion in my eyes though.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

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“Class of 2007 Hitting Stride”

Pictured above (from left to right), Derrick Rose, OJ Mayo, and Eric Gordon. These three phenoms from the high school class of 2007 are all emerging now as NBA Superstars.

Eric Gordon put on a show for Team USA yesterday, as the Americans finished off pool play at the FIBA World Championships with an undefeated 5 and 0 record.  Gordon was extremely efficient, going 7 of 10 from the floor with 21 points.  Many people are clamoring for the kid to get a starting spot.  “Air Gordon,” as many from the Indiana area like to call him, is one of many rapidly developing stars from the mythical 2007 High School Basketball Class.  The legend of this class is continuing to mount by the day.

People remember how quickly this group took over the College game (they still are running the College game as I will talk about later).  Now this group is finally starting to make some real noise in the professional game.  And want to know the scariest part?  These kids, on a traditional path, would be entering their senior year of college now.  Could John Calipari and the young blood Kentucky Wildcats have handled that?  Could the College Game have handled these phenomenal talents hanging around for the old and traditional, 4 year college experience?

Now take a moment to think about who was in this class.  Here is a rundown from the Rivals 2007 rankings:

Michael Beasley, Eric Gordon, Derrick Rose, OJ Mayo, Kyle Singler, Kevin Love, Bill Walker, JJ Hickson, James Harden, Anthony Randolph, Jerryd Bayless, Austin Freeman, Patrick Patterson, Jonny Flynn, Blake Griffin, C0rey Fisher, Cole Aldrich, E’Twaun Moore, Kalin Lucas, Nolan Smith, Andrew Ogilvy, JaJuan Johnson, LaceDarius Dunn, Evan Turner, Jeff Teague

This is 25 names from that year’s Rivals top 50.  Right away you should recognize every one of those names.  First of all it goes without saying that the guys that are now currently in the League did big things at the College level.  Michael Beasley, during his freshman campaign, was the real National Player of the Year in my eyes, regardless if they gave it to Tyler Hansborough.  Derrick Rose took his team to the National Championship game.  OJ Mayo put on quite the show in Southern California. Blake Griffin took home a National Player of the Year Award his sophomore year.  Evan Turner was the National Player of the Year last season.  Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler led Duke to a National Championship last season.  And I could go on and on. 

Current NCAA Scene:

Though there are only a few guys from this list (above) that have not gone to the League yet, the remaining are the guys that will run the College game this upcoming season.  Singler and Nolan Smith lead a team that many expect to repeat as National Champions in Duke.  Corey Fisher is the best returning player in the Big East and is expected to lead Villanova deep into March.  E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson have returned for their senior years to lead Purdue to a Final Four.  Kalin Lucas will be back to lead the Spartans back to yet another Final Four.  LaceDarius Dunn is the best player in the Big 12 and ready to get Baylor over the hump.  And I could go on.

Current NBA Scene:

Eric Gordon dropped 17 points a game last year for the Clippers and is wowing people at the FIBA World Basketball Championships.  He will finally get to form the dynamic duo with Blake Griffin that Clipper’s nation has been waiting for.  Griffin is  healthy and expected by many to bring home the NBA’s Rookie of the Year Award.  OJ Mayo has dropped an average of 18 points a game over his first two seasons and is occasionally mentioned in the same breath as the League’s Elite (Kobe, Melo, Wade).  The kid continues to improve and along with Rudy Gay, provides the Grizzlies with some bright prospects for the future.  Then of course there is All Star point guard, Derrick Rose.  Rose is quickly developing into the best point guard in the NBA and is globally renowned for his amazing speed and tenacity.  People refer to him as “The Human Fast Break.”  The guy saves his best performances for the playoffs and will be the leader of a very formidable Bull’s team this upcoming season.

So there you have it.  The Class of 2007, has not only taken over the College Game, they are starting to emerge with the NBA’s elite as well.  Most of these kids are at the ripe age of 21 years old.  Can you think of a better age to have fun and take over the game?

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze